finished reading Anne of Green Gables for the first time yesterday. Even though I have long known of this book, but have not had occasion to read it until it was a selection of my book club, I had no idea how much I would enjoy it. It was not just an interesting read and a very good story, but also very inspiring without being even the least bit preachy.
It is a simple but also moving story of a young orphan girl, Anne Shirley, sent by mistake from the orphanage to a brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who own a farm on Prince Edward Island near the village of Avonlea. The surrounding countryside is described in exquisite detail and reflects the mood, feelings, and ideas of Anne. At first she is described as unattractive with a neighbor very bluntly commenting, “Well, they didn’t pick you for your looks, that’s sure and certain.” However, even though at the start Anne struggles with adjusting to her new situation, she has a very optimistic, even idealistic outlook and quickly begins to grow and transition into a very charming, intelligent young lady. In her optimism, she often says, “But it is so easy to imagine…” All of her endeavors and experiences are described in great detail and illustrate her story growing up from age eleven up to completion of her schooling. She holds all of her friends and neighbors very dear and has little envy of other’s fortunate circumstances. When traveling home along the coast with her friends from a concert where they find themselves surrounded by many from all walks of life, she says, “Look at that sea, girls—all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds. You wouldn’t change into any of those women if you could.” It seems that everyone is a friend to Anne. Even of a contentious relationship she refers to him in a very kindly way as “her friend the enemy.”
I have very little criticism of this book. It was published in 1908, and it is no wonder it was and still is so well received. As noted so aptly on the dust jacket of my copy, “The interplay of beauty and comedy tempered by sadness and unexpected sweetness will continue to enchant readers for generations to come.”
Spoiler alert, do not do this if you would rather see the Green Gables in your mind’s eye. As for myself, after I have read a book, I also like to read about a book and its author. I was curious about the setting for this novel and learned that the farm house does actually exist on Prince Edward Island. If you would like to see Green Gables by satellite at pedestrian level, click on these coordinates: 46°29′16″N 63°22′55.4″W I found these coordinates under Wikipedia’s Green Gables (Prince Edward Island) in the panel to the right side of the screen. Once into satellite view, zoom in and click and drag the pedestrian icon and drop on the coordinates marker. Once there in “street view” you can walk around Green Gables Heritage Place, designated a National Historic Site in 1985. There is plenty to explore, including Haunted Wood Trail and Balsam Hollow.
p.s. Thanks to my lovely wife JB for knocking this out. I’m heads down in a number of projects and am stuck under a brick of a book. But since she’d just finished this for her book club, I asked her “Pretty please” and got a review!